Although a lot of right decisions were made, there were also decision made by national governments that stood in the way of a Nordic Region based on mutual trust and freedom of movement. These were the conclusions drawn in today’s debate between the Nordic prime ministers and parliamentarians at the 2021 Session of the Nordic Council.
At the 73rd Session of the Nordic Council in Copenhagen, the council invited the Nordic prime ministers to discuss what the Nordic Region can learn from the coronavirus crisis. Although there was general agreement that, in our corner of the world, we have handled the past 18 months better than most, a number of government measures were met with constructive criticism from the Nordic Council.
The President of the Nordic Council Bertel Haarder did not mince his words: “In general, the Nordic Region has fared relatively well during the pandemic with many right decisions made. But some not so right decisions, maybe even bad decisions, were also made.” He also referred to a new opinion poll, “Support and disappointment”, which shows that only 1 in 10 residents feels that the Nordic countries worked well together during the coronavirus pandemic.
Distrust is creeping in, especially in the border regions
The fact that only 1 in 10 residents feels that the Nordic countries managed to work together well during the coronavirus pandemic is in part due to the challenges faced in the border regions.
“Being the most integrated and sustainable region in the world feels like a pipe dream for people in the border regions,” said Sweden’s Minister for Nordic Co-operation, Anna Hallberg.
There were split views towards the widespread closure of borders between the Nordic countries during the coronavirus crisis. Several of the prime ministers argued that it was necessary to close borders in an attempt to keep the virus at bay, while several members of the Nordic Council pointed to the need to identify solutions to ensure that borders remain open for the region’s residents, even in times of crisis.
Closer co-operation and better crisis preparedness
The Nordic Council and Nordic Council of Ministers broadly agreed that Nordic co-operation has learnt from the crisis and that, in the future, we will manage similar situations even better. This must be aided by closer co-ordination, better sharing of information, improved emergency preparedness, and more involvement in crisis mitigation.
“We must aim to strengthen Nordic co-operation and crisis preparedness while sticking to our vision of being the most integrated and sustainable region in the world by 2030,” said Finland’s Prime Minister, Sanna Marin.